Very slick ad, and Bing Cashback is nice, but it’s far from revolutionary or even unique. Let’s give credit where it’s due: Ebates (aff) was the first online cashback shopping portal, way back in 1998, consistently in operation since then, paying cashback reliably, AND providing coupon codes combinable with their cashback rewards.
Many competitors have joined the fray since ’98 — see the sidebar on the main CompareRewards.com page for reviews of a couple dozen online shopping rewards programs…and these don’t even include reviews of cashback reward credit cards. And while Bing’s cashback rates are quite good — highest overall in my 2008 cashback rate analysis — there are others with very competitive rates, like Extrabux (aff), FatWallet, and MrRebates (aff), and still others that pay cashback much faster, like QuickRewards.net (aff), where you can shop, have your cashback awarded, and cash it out to PayPal all in the same week…instead of having to wait 60 days at Bing.
I will give Bing/Microsoft this: I don’t know of another online shopping rewards program that has rolled out a slick, national advertising campaign no doubt in the multi-million dollar price range like Bing’s. If someone was completely ignorant of the fact online shopping cashback sites existed, Bing did a great job of educating them. And I’ve heard a good deal of anecdotal evidence that people tend to stick with the first rewards program they join. So…Bing may find the TV spots to be a worthwhile investment.
And hey, maybe one day they’ll actually keep some of the commission they’re earning from their merchants for sales made through Bing, rather than passing 100% of it on to the shopper. Operating Bing Cashback at a loss to encourage the use of its search engine is a strategy that can only last so long: we learned from Bing’s decision to end their double-cashback promo early that even Microsoft’s “generosity” (called by some “splendidly commercial bribery“) has limits.
[Thanks to my good friend Dennis for help with this post.]